Ten lessons from Reagan on building a brain trust
Don’t overformalize things. Reagan’s first meetings with his Kitchen Cabinet took place in their living rooms, not in the Oval Office. The lesson? Don’t overcomplicate things.
“No formal invitation to ‘Join My Kitchen Cabinet’ is required, and you don’t have to use parliamentary procedure during meetings,” comments Quiggle. “Just ask business associates, mentors, and acquaintances you admire if they’d be willing to let you seek their advice and share professional insight with you. Yes, leading your business effectively is an incredibly important undertaking, but meetings with your brain trust don’t have to feel like war councils. The goal is to have a meaningful, enlightening, and educational conversation.”
Keep in mind that you may need more than one brain trust. While Ronald Reagan relied heavily on his Kitchen Cabinet and Presidential Cabinet, he also assembled many other, more specialized teams who could help him make informed, intelligent decisions in all areas of his administration. He looked for experts across the nation within their various fields and persuaded them to give back to their country by sharing their time, their talents, and their expertise.
“You’ll probably need to assemble different brain trusts for different tasks, too,” points out Quiggle. “For instance, you might meet with one group to advise you on business expansion, another to discuss product development, another to help you identify new client prospects, and yet another to support you in handling employee issues. Receiving the best guidance on growing the many facets of your business isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal.”
Use their time wisely. You have brought your Kitchen Cabinet(s) together to advise you, true…but that doesn’t mean they need to weigh in on every single decision and dilemma you face. Part of using a brain trust effectively is knowing when to call on them…and when to tackle a challenge yourself.
“The type of knowledgeable, successful person you want in your Kitchen Cabinet simply won’t have a lot of time to spend in useless discussion,” Quiggle points out. “To determine if a matter should be brought up with your brain trust or not, ask yourself, If this doesn’t work out, how severe are the consequences I might face? Is this a lesson I can afford to learn on my own? Is the answer readily available from another resource?
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